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Mummified monk is ‘not dead’ and in rare meditative state, says expert

By Kate Baklitskaya
02 February 2015

As police say lama found in lotus positon was destined for sale on black market, there are claims it was one step away from becoming a Buddha.

The mummified remains, covered in cattle skin, were found on January 27 in the Songinokhairkhan province. Picture: Morning Newspaper 

A mummified monk found in the lotus position in Mongolia is 'not dead' and is instead one stage away from becoming a real-life Buddha, it has been claimed.

Forensic examinations are under way on the amazing remains, which are believed to be around 200 years old, having been preserved in animal skin. But one expert has insisted the human relic is actually in 'very deep meditation' and in a rare and very special spiritual state known as 'tukdam'.

Over the last 50 years there are said to have been 40 such cases in India involving meditating Tibetan monks.

Dr Barry Kerzin, a famous Buddhist monk and a physician to the Dalai Lama, said: 'I had the privilege to take care of some meditators who were in a tukdam state.

'If the person is able to remain in this state for more than three weeks - which rarely happens - his body gradually shrinks, and in the end all that remains from the person is his hair, nails, and clothes. Usually in this case, people who live next to the monk see a rainbow that glows in the sky for several days. This means that he has found a 'rainbow body'. This is the highest state close to the state of Buddha'.

He added: 'If the meditator can continue to stay in this meditative state, he can become a Buddha. Reaching such a high spiritual level the meditator will also help others, and all the people around will feel a deep sense of joy'.

Initial speculation is that the mummy could be a teacher of Lama Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov.

Born in 1852, Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov was a Buryat Buddhist Lama of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, best known for the lifelike state of his body.

Mummified monk is ‘not dead’ and in rare meditative state, says expert

Mummified monk is ‘not dead’ and in rare meditative state, says expert

The 'meditating monk' and the house in Mongolia where it was hidden. Pictures: Morning Newspaper 

Ganhugiyn Purevbata, who is the founder and professor of the Mongolian Institute of Buddhist Art at Ulaanbaatar Buddhist University, said: 'Lama is sitting in the lotus position vajra, the left hand is opened, and the right hand symbolizes of the preaching Sutra.

'This is a sign that the Lama is not dead, but is in a very deep meditation according to the ancient tradition of Buddhist lamas'.

The mummified remains, which were covered in cattle skin, were found on January 27 in the Songinokhairkhan province of Mongolia.

However, there is more to the story and now police have revealed that the monk had been stolen from another part of the country and was about to be sold off.

An unnamed official said that it was taken from a cave in the Kobdsk region by a man who then hid it in his own home in Ulaanbaatar.

He had then been planning to sell it on the black market at a 'very high price', with local media claiming he wanted to take it over the Mongolian border. Police uncovered the plot and quickly arrested a 45-year-old, named only as Enhtor. 

According to Article 18 of the Criminal Code of Mongolia smuggling items of cultural heritage are punishable with either a fine of up to 3million roubles ($43,000) or between five and 12 years in prison. The monk is now being guarded at the National Centre of Forensic Expertise at Ulaanbaatar.

Comments (195)

Reminds me of the Parrot sketch on Monty Python, He's not dead he's sleeping, this is a dead parrot ceases to exist.
Monty Parrott, UK
05/02/2015 17:35
It IS extraordinary, and it is a shame that it has been treated so disrespectfully. But the good doctor does seem to be choosing his words carelessly. Normally tukdam is said to follow death. It lasts for hours, sometimes a few days or even longer. In tukdam the body, though without breath or heartbeat, stays fresh and without rigor mortis. When the tukdam ends, the body collapses, and is just like any other dead body. The rainbow body, however, is a product of a very specific line of practice, a small and particular part of dzogchen. The process starts immediately after death, but the shrinking stops if the body is disturbed. It takes a few days, even a week or two, to happen.
So these are two different ideas, and this body fits neither case. It looks much more like what happens after a long, slow reduction in food intake. The digestive system then effectively shuts down – no juice, no bugs, nothing to attack the body when it dies.

I speak only about what other people say and believe.
Alex Wilding, Italy
05/02/2015 16:10
i think this is amazing it adds to the beleive that only our body die not our spirit/soul, but i greatly beleive he should have been left where he chose for this to happen, its brings great joy, wishing i was a budist monk, perhaps i might in a future life
Marion, gloucestershire england
05/02/2015 16:05
I have to ask. What exactly do they mean by "not dead"?
Devon, Seattle
05/02/2015 15:25
To add some facts to my comments below; The tenth Guru of the Sikhs wrote in his autobiography that he had gone into this meditative state for many millennia while meditating at place called Hemkund in Northern India. He reached a state where he became one with God. Then God told him that he has to go back to earth and establish the Khalsa (the pure ones.) He took birth in 1666 and did many wonderful things, and performed countless miracles.

After his death the actual place of his meditation was discovered in around 1936. The place is alive and well today and open to tourism. Wikipedia has articles on Hemkund and Guru Gobind Singh. To people of India this kind of thing is rare but not a strange occurrence.
Know_about_these_things, USA
05/02/2015 12:01
Mongolian winter temperatures can reach -40 deg C and it can happen that animals are found in the morning still standing but frozen to death. This man was found to be sheltering in a cave, praying. My guess is he died during a very cold winter and by spring his body had lyophilised ??
Rob, Ashford, Kent
05/02/2015 11:24
Respect to this great soul, he has attained 'light-praan' state of awareness, and now remains an example. Many masters just disappear (poof), leaving behind ash. This is a great yogi still in 'praan-uupar' state. This is nothing new. In India, yogis reach this level, they can spend hundreds, or thousands of years like this, even if they are buried (even now there are many yogis like this all over India, in secret caves and in chambers inside earth). "Praan uupar" mudra happens when vital-energy leaves the lower body and resides in the head, breathing pretty much stops, bodily feelings not felt. There was an earthquake in Rishikesh area, and out of sand/dirt/earth revealed few buried yogis, when they came out of meditation they revealed that they were in "praan-uupar" mudra and landslide covered their bodies in mud, so they remained that way for thousands of years. Anyway, respect to this living-example. _/\_
JS, India
05/02/2015 11:13
I have known about this state for a long time. I was born in India. My father was in the British Army. They were finding people in this state in Northern India, high up in the mountains, 14000ft and above. It's a meditative state where they go into an extreme case of hibernation. Many of them were in perfect health but they were in this state for unknown number of years, a few hundred at least. More advanced ones can sense that they have been found, wake up, and act as though nothing is abnormal. But you can easily tell by their features, hair and clothing that this is not a normal person from current age. Human existence is highly desirable. You can reach the highest spiritual states while meditating in-the-body. We are created in His image for this purpose. If the body is not decaying, this means the Spirit has not relinquished its attachment to it. Only God and highly evolved souls know about these things. I was told one thing many times: THEY ARE NOT TO BE DISTURBED IN ANY WAY.
Know_about_these_things, USA
05/02/2015 10:52
These beautiful beings die like this for the sake of Global benediction for all. I am appreciative. Thank you. May you receive the light you deserve.
Kurt Roman Liriano, Tampa, Florida
05/02/2015 09:10
Wait, but BIOLOGICALLY he's dead right? lol
05/02/2015 06:37
It's just amazing... poeple should know that this is in fact a dead body as we know it, but being in the maximun state of meditation is to reach the state where a self leave the body (as when we die)... to clear completely our minds from our senses.

But still leaving behind philosophical beliefs, it is amazing just the idea that people can get into that state and "die" without even noticing. (sorry for the bad english)
sh, Peru
05/02/2015 03:06
The man is surely in a deep state of Samadhi. This can last for milliseconds, or centuries. It is similar to the Zen "satori", except satori implies a mental burst of timeless enlightenment that can be small (a second or two), middling (for a few delicious moments) or great (for an extended period).

I personally wish this great meditator all the best in his future practice, and would ask for his blessings to come upon us all, for the sake of our own practice and mental conditions.

With respect.
The Archmage of the Aether, The Deep Aether
04/02/2015 22:46
he is obviously alive and miming holding a baby or breastfeeding. You get to this state if you have McDonalds every day...
Ian, sydney, Australia
04/02/2015 21:57
The original teachings of Buddha are pure rationality, unlike the ones of esoteric branches like Tibetan Buddhism that appeared more than a thousand years after Buddha's death and that are a mix of Buddhism, Hinduism and other Chinese local sects.
Although I respect people who have such beliefs, I only mean to say that all this (rainbows, self mummification, ever lasting meditative states and so on) has nothing to see with the original teachings.
If I may expose my vision of some of these original teachings : they are meant to show a way to unconditional happiness by getting rid of all our illusions, which means realizing that everything changes in every instant (impermanence), that nothing and no one as a self as we are all interdependent products of the material Universe (selflessness and vacuity) and that everything can become a source of desire or repulsion, hence of pain, and must be considered with a disillusioned eye to be clearly perceived. I invite you to read more on these concepts, they are some of the fundamental pillars of Buddhism.
Anthony, Canada
04/02/2015 19:49
Amazing - have heard of this state in Autibiography of a Yogi but he states the individual if alive can be brought back through singing OM in the right ear??
Diana Edgar, Yuendumu NT Australia
04/02/2015 18:43

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